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Objection III - The Role of Narrative Tradition

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 12.04.12

Q: Why the thesis seems to contradict the narrative tradition in heraldry?


A: It was never considered a deep specific analysis of this problem, which I believe to be beyond the scope of the thesis, even because the question is far from being a proper fundamental objection. Tradition, in this case, is the description of a past event transmitted successively generation after generation to the present. This is not a case of facts scientifically verified as genuine, but we can consider them sometimes as subsidiary documental sources, ordinarily with many reservations. By reviving them, especially if they directly affect us, we are tempted to ignore that these legacies suffered a natural decrepitude imposed by time. It would be normal to expect that the memory of facts happened hundreds of years ago have been altered in some way, or even settled in the domain of legend. We may observe how Genealogy, another auxiliary science of History, has often derived its foundational narratives from audacious, generous and gallant deeds, even witnessing the intervention of God, in order to justify the nobility of the lineages. It is true that they are now rarely taken into account by genealogists themselves but for some reason this appreciation seems to be different when the subject in discussion is heraldry.


Our attitude won't be as strict as for the first case, nor so condescending as for the second. We presume that traditional narratives associated with heraldry must always be considered in the study of the pragmatics surrounding every armorial creation; frequently they are the only link remaining beyond the visual traces. But it doesn't mean we should assign them the character of unquestionable premises. Nevertheless, a quite reasonable number of arms showed plausible common interfaces when analysed and compared regarding such narratives. The present state of investigation allows recommending and encouraging the study of this common ground in order to turn them into justifications that reinforce our hypotheses. However, no occurrence already approached guarantees an absolute agreement between the described facts and the semantics of the respective heraldic framework subject to our methodology.


D. Afonso Henriques

Furthermore, the expressive mechanisms are quite distinct. The parophonic model looks for a methodological structure, in which every explanation of the visual traces is based in a scarce number of metonymical propositions, suitable to each individual occurrence. Traditional models, in turn, use all the resources of the language to tell a story, being authentic or not, adjusted to the visual elements of the corresponding coat of arms.


In brief, by accepting the statements once proposed in the thesis, they would represent, in fact, the recovery of a tradition now lost or consumed by time. We can't affirm, therefore, that it contradicts tradition; instead it only presents a new version of the facts. And as when we don't know the absolute truth, truth doesn't seem to be exclusive, we may only guarantee that, in average, most of the results in the thesis differ from the former traditional versions, even though agreeing with them in some particular points.

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Published at 11:42

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